Instagram is a pretty big deal, but unfortunately, it can be pretty tough to deal with, especially for a small business.
For a long time, unlike Facebook or Twitter, Instagram didn’t offer free analytics built right into their platform. With the launch of some new Instagram business tools, now they do. This is a big step for Instagram, but like the free analytics other sites offer, these tools provide more of an avant garde watercolor rather than a high-res photograph. Thankfully, there’s a DIY method you won’t find on Pinterest.
This method certainly isn’t meant to replace analytics reports or the fast and easy analytics the new Instagram business tools will now offer, because they are useful, and convenient to export and show your clients how their social media is growing. Your clients love growth. They want to make sure engagement, followers, and even the plants are growing, so they like having charts and numbers that tell them so. And, of course, it’s important for you as the marketer to see the overall performance of your posts, but what you really want to know is which aspects are affecting that performance.
Formal analytics reports offer things like: which posts were most engaging, total engagement overall, and average likes and comments per photo. It’s pretty nifty seeing which of your posts did best, because hey, maybe you should do some more of that. But if you want to take it farther and discover the best days, times of day, types of content, and hashtags to use, you’ll have to do an analysis of your own.
Method to the Insta-Madness
You get what you pay for, and since you’re not paying for it, your analytics are going to require some trial and error.
Step 1: Get Insta-organized. Create a chart to document your posts.
There are a lot of factors when it comes to a successful post, so you’ll want to stay organized and take notes on each variable. Things like the quality of the picture, the content within the picture, the hashtags you pair them with, what day you post, and what time you post, can all effect how much engagement your posts receive. The more information you record, the more easily you’ll be able to pinpoint what’s working, and what’s not.
For example, if you’re running some sort of contest where you need to post user-generated content, you may not be posting photos of the highest quality. Since the quality of the photo can drastically affect how much attention it gets, noting this will allow you to dismiss the potential lower engagement it receives when you’re studying the overall effect of other factors.
Step 2: Tag, You’re It.
Hashtags are like clothes; some are for everyday, while others are for special occasions. One of the best things you can do for your Instagram engagement is establishing groupings of hashtags for certain types of everyday posts and for posts on certain days of the week. If your client is a restaurant, make sure you have a solid arsenal of tags that attract food-lovers, like #foodie or #foodart, that you can apply to most posts. Then on certain days of the week, insert special hashtags like #TastyTuesday, which will be trending—surprise—Tuesdays.
Once you’ve determined these hashtags, keep them relatively constant, save minor adjustments for holiday posts, different types of content, and specific hashtags for specific pictures. This gives you more control over the hashtag variable and allows you to more easily gauge how different hashtags can affect the post, as well as how other factors can affect the post.
Step 3: All In A Day’s Post.
Some days they love you, other days they don’t. Trust us, it’s not you, it’s them. You may notice your engagement on certain days is higher, while other days it’s much lower. That’s because people tend to be on Instagram on certain days more often than others. Knowing which days will help you plan your Insta-schedule. There are many sites that will tell you the best days to post, most noting Wednesday as the day with the highest engagement, but your brand is a special snowflake and might differ from the average. That’s why we test and record. However, these peak days are a great starting point to test out first, then you can adjust from there. Soon, you’ll see which day is right for you.
Hashtags are also a factor. Because of the popularity of certain hashtags used on certain days, those days may be better for some brands over others. For example, a frame shop’s best day may be Thursday because they’re able to take advantage of #ThrowbackThursday with vintage frames or old photographs, while a wellness brand’s best day might be Wednesday, because they’re able to increase engagement with the popular hashtag: #WellnessWednesday.
Step 4: Timing is #Everything.
Posting on the right day is much less likely to reap results if you’re not posting at the right time. And each day has its own perfect posting time. Again, there are many sites that will give you a rundown of the best times for each day of the week, but again, your brand is special and may vary. Also, the information could be outdated, or outside of the timeframe of your workday. These references offer a place to start, so try them out and record your results. When you’re receiving consistently high engagement at 3pm on Tuesdays, that’s when you’ll know you’ve found the best time to post.
Step 5: Table of Content.
Not all content is created equal, so it’s important to record the different kinds you post. If your client is a wedding venue, you may start to notice, “hm, the pictures that include a bride are doing much better than the ones with centerpieces.” This could be because the hashtags associated with brides populate more than hashtags associated with centerpieces, or maybe brides-to-be just love envisioning themselves in their wedding dresses. Either way, with this knowledge you can adjust, and start posting more photos you know receive higher engagement (no wedding pun intended).
Don’t get discouraged if after you’ve developed the perfect schedule, some days you see drastically lower engagement than what you expect. There could be a number of reasons why, but it doesn’t mean your schedule is broken. If the low engagement persists on a particular day at a particular time, you may have a problem. But if you never stop recording and adjusting, you should find that overall things are going Insta-well.